I think if you don’t see the point of this piece, or pieces like it, you may not fully grasp how hard it is to live with a sexual assault experience in our present world. To illustrate what it’s like: when a graduate school colleague stalked and harassed me (and escalated to violence), reporting him to my program didn’t even cross my mind. When a young man assaulted me and even admitted to viewing it as an assault in his private messages to me a few days afterward, reporting it, again, never crossed my mind. Most victims I know have never felt safe naming who attacked them or seeking any kind of justice or accommodation of any kind. If you don’t see that there is a clear need, here, that needs to be addressed, I don’t know how to make you understand it.

The point of this essay, and ones like it, is that we need a massive cultural shift, as well as a change in policies. The cultural shift is under way — victims are being heard and believed a bit more. However, that shift is flawed, and is already being met with a backlash. I don’t need to present a utopian solution for that problem to be genuine. It’s logically fallacious for you to think so. “Believe victims” is too simplistic a solution, but as a culture we do need to err more on that side. “Teach people what consent looks like and how to negotiate it” is another big piece.

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